Mikhail Grigorenko

Patrick Roy sticks up for Grigorenko

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If there’s a wild card in Friday’s draft in Pittsburgh, it’s Mikhail Grigorenko. The Russian forward out of the QMJHL is ranked No. 3 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting – however, it’s possible he could fall out of the top 10 after an underwhelming playoff performance that left many questioning his work ethic.

But Grigorenko’s junior coach with the Quebec Remparts, Patrick Roy, thinks all the talk is unfair.

“I’ll be honest, I’m very disappointed to hear those comments. From the very first day he decided to come to Quebec he made a huge commitment to learn English. He’s studied for three hours a day, his English is very, very good,” said Roy, as per Sportsnet.ca. “He’s made a huge commitment to be an NHL player.

“When people question his work ethic, it’s not true, he works hard all the time. The thing that we need to work on with him is to get his stamina to another level, he gets tired fast, but that doesn’t mean a player doesn’t work hard.”

To which scouts would probably ask, then what does it mean? That he’s not training the right way? That the mono he battled this season took it out of him? Because if he’s naturally prone to fatigue, how’s he going to handle the grind of an NHL season?

Roy also addressed this morning’s meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman that had everyone in Pittsburgh talking.

According to Roy, it had nothing to do with the Phoenix Coyotes moving to Quebec City.

“It was just a friendly conversation,” he said.

“If Phoenix had come up, don’t worry, it would not be in the dining room.”

Bruins’ second line officially goes under the microscope

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While much has been written about the Boston Bruins’ depleted defense, there’s also a good amount of intrigue about the forward group, which will look dramatically different tonight compared to last year’s season opener.

Here are the Bruins’ expected lines versus the Jets:

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronLoui Eriksson
Matt BeleskeyDavid KrejciDavid Pastrnak
Jimmy HayesRyan SpoonerBrett Connolly
Chris KellyJoonas KemppainenZac Rinaldo

The line most under the microscope may be that second one. In today’s Boston Globe, there’s a lengthy story on Krejci. The 29-year-old center with the big contract only played 47 games last season due to injuries. He finished with just 31 points.

So, where is Krejci’s game now?

Then there’s free-agent addition Matt Beleskey, a.k.a. Milan Lucic‘s replacement. Prior to scoring 22 times last year for the Ducks, the 27-year-old Beleskey had never tallied more than 11 goals in a season.

So, is Beleskey a legitimate top-six forward?

On the other wing, it’s David Pastrnak, the 19-year-old who, somewhat surprisingly, emerged as one of the top rookies in the league last year.

So, can Pastrnak take another step forward?

“It’s been a good three plus weeks where we’ve been able to kind of work individually, as a group, as a line, with different players and different personalities,” said coach Claude Julien. “We’re pleased with it. We’re optimistic and we just have to let things work themselves out too.”

Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks